Susan's Great North Swim

18 Jun 2019 | By Jill

Susan's Story

As a kid I swam competitively and had a decent level of success for my age in my region, this meant training 5-6 times per week, some days before school. I gave it all up about 15-16 years old when the lure of spending my weekends with my friends became stronger than the will to compete and have only dabbled in the pool from time to time in the 16 years since. I quite fancied a challenge and had thought about doing a swim because even at my fittest, I absolutely can’t run and when I saw a friend of mine had done the Great North Swim last year, I decided I would enter. I chose the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust  to raise money for as just over 2 years ago, in May 2017, I was unfortunate to experience an Ectopic Pregnancy. I already had one son, Jonah, a couple years before that and had some twinges early on in my pregnancy with him but an early scan had ruled anything sinister out and he was born happy and healthy 7 months later. When the time had come to try for another baby I fell pregnant on the second cycle but although my period was late and I already felt exhausted, my home pregnancy testing strips were showing such a faint line it didn’t feel quite right. We knew I was pregnant for 15 days and in that time we talked at length about our plans for our new baby, who we nicknamed Poppet. I woke on May 29th with the same kind of twinges I had felt in my previous pregnancy and thought nothing of it but as Jonah was at nursery that day and I wasn’t due to work until later that night, I thought I’d go and get checked out. The radiographer at the EPU went very quiet as she scanned me and straight away I could tell there was no gestational sac, only a little doughnut shaped blip up near my right ovary. I knew straight away what she was going to tell me and my world just fell apart. Blood tests confirmed the news that it was an ectopic and later that night I had my right fallopian tube removed along with my baby Poppet. The time around the operation was a blur, the nurse handed me pamphlets on treatment options that were made by EPT, they were so helpful and spoke plainly but kindly about what I was likely to expect in the next hours and days. After the operation, I lay in bed scouring the EPT website for details about the where, what and why regarding Ectopic Pregnancy. The website gave me all the information I needed and hope that I still had a decent chance of conceiving again. The part about supporting the partner through the process was invaluable as although my husband Calum was holding it all together, I knew that inside he was devastated, for himself but mostly for me. I am blessed to say that 10 months ago we welcomed our little rainbow baby, Elijah, into the world and our family feels complete. I wanted to do something to both challenge myself and also to support the EPT as looking back from the happy place I’m in now, the EPT was a guiding light in a dark, dark time in my life. I began, hardheartedly, training and found that my past experience as a swimmer had not left me and quickly was able to do a mile in the pool. I went for a dip in Ullswater whilst visiting family just a month before the big day and the water was excruciatingly cold, I was so nervous that I wouldn’t make it. The weather forecast got worse and worse each approaching day, the water temperature was cold (13.9c) and on the morning of the swim we were notified that the distances had been shortened so my one mile swim was now more like a half mile. I would have quit if it wasn’t for all the kind people who had sponsored me but I was there proudly wearing my EPT t shirt and I had my nails painted in the charity colours. The swim itself went surprisingly fast. The water didn’t feel too bad to me but maybe that was the adrenaline. The other swimmers and support team were absolutely fabulous. The water was very choppy and I found it difficult to control my breathing which is common for cold water newbies like me. I made it round in a 20mins 36sec which I’m relatively proud of and I felt amazing after. My darling son Jonah ran up and gave me a huge hug and all my family were there to cheer me on. At the time of writing I’ve raised just under £1300 and I’ve had a few people ask me about Ectopic Pregnancy so it’s been nice to share some awareness too. Most importantly to me though its helped my husband deal with the loss we had. At the time of my ectopic he felt he had to squash down his emotions and be strong for my sake which meant he never really confronted his feelings about it.

If you feel inspired by Susan’s incredible challenge and fundraising, please take a look at ways to get involved or email our Fundraising Co-ordinator who is happy to help:

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